Building Good Soil
Soil is Essential
Since working on my certification in Permaculture I have learnt the importance of soil. All gardners know that healthy soil is essential for growing healthy plants. Oftentimes, we do not think about the soil as being full of life. There is lots of life happening down deep in the soil as there is on top of it. Thousands of little organisms in the soil are replinishing it. It is very important to fill the soil with as much life as possible. A handful of soil contains over a billion bacteria alon with fungi and amoebae. Then on top of that there is room within this handful of soil for water, humus, air and other molecules. That is a lot of life!!!
The soil organisms are busy within the soil searching out food, eating and excreting just like all living beings above the soil. These organisms are chewing up the matter that the plants above cannot eat and turning it into something more palatable. Gardeners know they need to feed the soil so it can feed the plants. Instead of applying soluble fertilizers, permaculture and organic gardening suggests to apply fertilizer the way nature does. Most soluble fertilzers wash away and end up in the ground water. It is humus and the life of the soil that produces fertility.
Poor soil can be brought back with the use of nitrogen fixers such as red clover, rye grass, vetch, seadweed, chicken manure, horse maure and finished compost. This is so much better than being locked into continuous use of chemical fertilizers. Another method to help build up the soil is less tilling. Tilling is good for the first season, but after that it destroys the soil structure. Putting more compost in the soil, which is the end product of decomposition of organic material is a good away to bring a dying soil back to life again.